Okay, I didn't want to use the W-word in the title, that would be too much for some to take, but jokes apart, the "new" announcement by the Ministry of Labor this week about 19 jobs which were reserved exclusively for Saudis was nothing but that!
The list announced by the Ministry of Labor made it appear as though it was something new. But before I come to that, take a look at the professions which are supposed to be off-limits for expatriates. Labor affairs Manager, Staff relations specialist, Staff relations Manager, Director of Personnel relations, Head of Personnel department, HR Manager, Executive HR Manager, Staff relations clerk, Recruitment clerk, Staff affairs clerk, Receptionist (general), Health receptionist, Hotel receptionist, Security, Broker, Treasury secretary, Claims clerk, Customs broker, Key specialist (now don't confuse this with Key maker) and finally the mother of all - literally - Female Sales Specialist!
Did you notice something in common? Apart from the fact that all of them are white-collared jobs - no prizes for guessing that - have you ever seen any expat occupy any of these positions for the past 10 years? How many organizations have HR Manager as an expat? Or an expat security guard? Atleast I have never seen in all my years in the kingdom any expat Labor affairs Manager or a health receptionist, whatever that means.
The reason given for the release of this not-so-new-list is to "check the high amount of remittances by foreigners". Now come on, please, give us a break. Even Saudis have stopped believing this nonsensical rhetoric which has been getting so frequent that it has reached the point of absolute boredom.
Fact of the matter is, there is an acute shortage of skilled manpower in this country. And no Saudi wants to do any unskilled job, so let's not even talk about it because everyone knows that even if there was a 100% Saudization of all jobs in the kingdom, the one job which would not be Saudized is that of a janitor.
More seriously, I am talking about skilled people. All you have to do is go and ask any company involved in infrastructure and you would know how bad the situation is. There are simply no electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, nurses, X-ray technicians - I can simply go on and on. Even maids are going on a premium. The ground reality is, expats have started leaving for other countries, which treat them with dignity.
Which is why, all this talk of billions of riyals draining out of the country as though it is stolen money is getting more sick each time there is this great talk of Saudization. Please, train your people in all skills, teach them dignity of labor. Expats would gladly welcome that. Let a beginning be made at least for the next generation. Teach your kids that it is okay to do any physical work and there is nothing undignified about it, as long as you do not steal anyone else's money, respect other human beings and work honestly. Tell your children that expats are here to earn an honest living and not to swindle your money. Tell them to treat expats with genuine respect, which is the only way they would get back the same. Until such time it happens, let us forget all about this talk of jobs being Saudized and keep watching the fun. Oh, by the way they forgot to add one more job to the list - Mermaids!